Two elderly women died on Saturday in a violent struggle for Ramadan gifts distributed on behalf of a former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at Onikan Stadium in the state.
Sunday Punch learnt that a middle-aged man fainted in the commotion, while several others were injured during the distribution by the Iyaloja General of Nigeria and Tinubu’s daughter, Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo.
The Lagos State Police Command, however, said no deaths were recorded from the stampede.
Each gift pack was said to have included a package of rice, salt, noodles and sugar, as well as a sum of N1,500 contained in an envelope, which were given to each person.
It was learnt that the injured were rushed to the Marina General Hospital, while corpses of the deceased women, who were said to be in their sixties, were deposited at the hospital’s morgue.
An eyewitness, Musbau Adeyanju, who spoke with Punch on the telephone on Saturday evening, said a crowd had besieged the stadium around 8am to collect the gifts, with males and females maintaining separate queues.
He said the exercise was smooth until around 11.30am when it was disrupted by some impatient persons.
Adeyanju said, “We started entering the stadium with a pass as early as 8am. The distribution started at 10am and each person was collecting a bag containing rice, semovita, noodles, sugar and salt and a sum of N1,500. It was Iyaloja General that represented Asiwaju.
“Around 11.30am, people became impatient for the fear that the gifts might not get to them. There was a stampede and two persons died in the process. Their bodies were laid under a tent, while an ambulance that would carry them was being awaited. It was when the clothes that were used to cover their faces were removed that I discovered they were elderly women.
“Their bodies were eventually taken to the mortuary by an ambulance of the Lagos State Ambulance Services. Several people were also injured. I left the place after the women died.”
Another eyewitness, who identified himself only as Idris, said some hoodlums cashed in on the stampede to dispossess people of their valuables.
“Initially, the programme was well organised. A gate was opened for males and another for females. Suddenly, some hoodlums at the stadium started snatching phones from people. It was almost my turn when the distribution was disrupted. The age of the women that died should be around 60,” he said.
An emergency official, who spoke to Punch on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, confirmed that there were casualties during the rampage.
He was, however, silent on whether there were fatalities among the casualties.
“I cannot say whether the casualties involved loss of lives. But some people were rushed to the hospital,” he stated.
General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Michael Akindele, denied knowledge of the deaths.
“LASEMA did not get any report of such,” he said.
The Lagos State Police Command’s spokesperson, Dolapo Badmos, said it was only a man who collapsed and was treated on the spot before he was taken to the general hospital for further treatment.
She said, “It was a Ramadan lecture organised by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu but he was not there. He was represented. The place became rowdy during the distribution of gifts and a man collapsed in the process. He was treated inside the ambulance at the stadium and was later taken to the hospital for proper treatment. No death was recorded.”